How to Stay Sane During the Application Process

The application process can be tough for a new freelancer. Without proper preparation and self-care, it can leave you feeling discouraged, stressed, even burned out.

To squeeze the most out of your applications, here are our tips for staying sane during the process.

1. Set goals and rewards

Applying for jobs can be a mentally and emotionally draining process, but it doesn’t have to be.

The Solution: Make a game out of it! Set yourself a goal (for example: apply to 20 jobs per day) and then reward yourself at the end of the week, even if you didn’t get any new clients from those applications.

2. Apply and (almost) forget

Once you’ve crafted that winning proposal and finally willed yourself to hit send, panic can set in. Did you include everything you needed? When will you hear back? What if they don’t take your application further? Suddenly, the optimism of having potentially found a role you love drains away and you’re left constantly thinking about what’s going to happen next.

The Solution: Turn your attention to something else. We’re not saying you should completely forget about your applications, but obsessing over them won’t help your optimism or increase your chances.

3. Don’t chase too often

Eagerness is a useful trait to have, but it’s best to save most of it for once you’ve bagged yourself a new project. Constantly chasing up clients you’ve sent a proposal to can be a real turn-off and you definitely don’t want to annoy them before you’ve even had a chance to build a relationship.

The Solution: Be mindful of their process, because it’s likely they have a ton of applications to go through. Set yourself a little reminder after a week or two to send a brief follow up.

4. Keep track

It’s easy to get lost with keeping track of the clients and projects you’re applying for and reaching out to. Worrying if you’ve forgotten to apply for that role or sent a follow up email yet is counter-productive and unnecessary.

The Solution: Use online or offline tools to help you keep track of applications. Trello or Asana are great ones, but even a simple spreadsheet with the date you applied, the role you applied to and whether you followed up or heard back can work equally well.

5. Use rejection to your advantage

You’ve been waiting weeks to hear back about a job you applied for, and one day an email response arrives in your inbox!

But it’s not good news. They’ve chosen someone else to work on the project. 😢

You have two choices here:

  1. You can either take it personally, get upset and discouraged, letting your applications grind to a halt.  

  2. Or, you can take what useful feedback or criticism they’ve included in their reply and use it to your advantage.

The Solution: Hey, it happens. You’re allowed a little bit of time to feel disappointed, but then get right back to it. Onward and upwards! Are there areas of your application that need strengthening? Do your skills need topping up? Use this opportunity to boost your application letter and try again!  

6. Fight against comparison & self-doubt

If you aren’t applying to roles because you think that there’s too much competition, it’s a waste of time, or you’re not ‘good enough’, stop that right there!

With this kind of negative, fear-based self-talk, you’re selling yourself short and denying yourself great opportunities. Even if you don’t meet all the requirements and qualifications in each job post, you could still apply! You might just be the most qualified person they’ve seen so far.

As a freelancer, it’s likely there will be many fearful moments in your career! But rather than trying to avoid fear at all costs, which restricts you to your comfort zone, instead learn how to manage your fear and use it to push you forward & stretch your comfort zone.

The Solution: Recognize that you are worthy of these opportunities as much as any other freelancer because only you have your unique set of skills, knowledge, personality and life experience. The worst thing to ever come out of asking for something is a ‘no’, in which case, you can simply move onto a better opportunity!

📌 Additional Resources

  • Huntr for finding jobs and contacts

  • Trello for keeping track of applications and follow-ups

  • Udemy for expanding your knowledge

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